California Gov. Gavin Newsom (L) signs SB 616 authored by Sen. Lena Gonzalez (R), D-Long Beach, to give workers five sick days a year instead of three, on Oct. 4, 2023. (Courtesy of Office of Governor Gavin Newsom)
California workers will get five sick days a year instead of three beginning in January under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Oct. 4.
Senate Bill 616
, authored by Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), guarantees workers at least five paid sick days per year and increases the cap employers can place on such from 6 to 10 days and 48 to 80 hours.
It also increases the number of paid sick days a worker can roll over to the next year from three to five days.
Legislators reduced the total number of sick days from seven to five in the final bill that passed the Legislature Sept. 13.
“Too many folks are still having to choose between skipping a day’s pay and taking care of themselves or their family members when they get sick,” Mr. Newsom said in a press release Oct. 4. “We’re making it known that the health and wellbeing of workers and their families is of the utmost importance for California’s future.”
Ms. Gonzalez said the governor’s signature of the bill was an “exciting moment.”
“As workers and families face illnesses that can disrupt their wages and livelihoods, California has delivered and stepped up to protect and expand paid sick leave, providing a critical safety net to all working Californians,” she said.
Federal law does not require employers to provide sick leave. Up until 2014, California authorized employers to offer it but didn’t require it.
But the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014
in California mandates that employees who work in the state for 30 or more days within a year are entitled to paid sick leave.
Increasing such sick days is important for working families, according to Ingrid Vilorio, a Jack in the Box employee from Castro Valley, California.
“This is a huge win for workers who have struggled to access adequate paid sick time. Going from 3 to 5 paid sick days [will be] a very important lifeline for working families across the state,” she said in the governor’s press release. “Now, workers will no longer have to worry about how to make the month’s rent or how to keep food on the table while recovering from illness or caring for a loved one.”
The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber), however, called the new law a job-killer and warned
small businesses of increased costs related to it Oct. 4.
“This new mandate will impose significant costs on California businesses, especially small employers already operating on slim margins,” said CalChamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera in an online statement
. “Our concern is that far too many small employers simply cannot absorb this new cost, especially when viewed in context of all of California’s other leaves and paid benefits, and they will have to reduce jobs, cut wages, or raise consumer prices to deal with this mandate.”
She said the new law will hurt the state overall.
“Small businesses are crucial to our local communities and the overall success of our economy. Continuing to add costs to their price of doing business creates a threat to California’s long-term competitiveness,” she said.